Jun 4, 2012
Given the choice, I prefer the company of creative business leaders over leaders of creative businesses, but when asked to speak at an industry panel in Portland I immediately booked my ticket. I find a microphone hard to resist.
REGARDLESS IF WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ALWAYS IMPROVING UI’S OR DESIGNING A NEW GO-TO MARKET STRATEGY, CREATIVITY IN BUSINESS HAS COME OF AGE AND KNOWING HOW TO DO IT WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION IS THE ONLY WAY TO GROW BEYOND NEXT QUARTERS EARNINGS.
It was a warm-up of sorts for the upcoming DMI conference, and the conversation ranged from “what should be taught in design school today?” (interesting) to “How about that design thinking stuff?” (barf). One thread caught my attention most: What is driving the desire of client-side organizations to build their own creative capacity in the model of Facebook, Apple and the like?
Great question. What is fueling this shift, what does it mean?
WHAT’S HAPPENING AND WHY
As businesses look for new way’s to get a leg up in the market, they’ve been drawing creativity and design closer to the core of their organization’s value creation; Design in all it’s forms is no longer an add-on, but a key component driving business value. The trend didn’t emerge overnight, but the role of powerful embedded creative groups at success-storied organizations like Nike, Apple, and Facebook has boosted this trend into mainstream orbit.
Not long ago in-house creative groups were disempowered production shops clamoring for respect. Now the best creative thinkers want part, and for all progressive businesses looking to create long-term growth and value this is where the game will be won.
WHAT IT MEANS
Because of the speed of markets, the pace of change, and rapidly shifting world economies, one of the most important competitive advantages today may be owning ths now-critical value creator known as creativity. Regardless if we’re talking about always improving UI’s or designing a new go-to market strategy, creativity in business has come of age and knowing how to do it within an organization is the only way to grow beyond next quarters earnings.
EMBEDDED CREATIVITY IS THAT IRONICALLY HIP HAIR STYLE THE MULLET: BUSINESS IS IN FRONT, BUT DON’T FORGET BRING THE PARTY IN THE BACK.
THE MULLET MODEL
The value brought by embedded creative (regardless if it’s the strategic, digital, or the communicative variety) is a magic mix of business knowledge and design objectivity. There is a level of credibility, education and influence that a full time employee brings with them to every decision every day—or at least they should. There is also an inherent creative quality that most designers can’t help but inject. All together I can see embedded creativity as something like that ironically hip hair style the mullet: Bring your business in front, but don’t forget the party in the back.
ALL TOGETHER NOW
When our agency is brought on to help with a brand initiative, we want want to give our clients the best opportunity for success, and that means providing them not only the tools they need to continue to build their brand but a way to help them master those tools. Whether a brand residency retainer where periodic check-in’s and group critiques provide immediate benefit, embedding a part-time program expert for a few months to ensure business decisions gets the benefit of a brand advocate, or in the most critical of challenges, placing a temporary CMO, organizations that have yet to fully grow an embedded creative capacity can learn how.
Embedding creativity is where today’s business will be won and lost, but if your organization hasn’t figured it out yet (and despite what all the press might have you believe most haven’t) don’t fret, there’s time for you to start building your team. One word of warning: Don’t wait too long or your new business edge will become table stakes, and there’s nothing worse than showing up to the party with the same haircut as everyone else.